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What Are The Symptoms, Causes, And Types Of Dystonia

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Let’s first find out what the word “dystonia” means from the medical point of view. It is a disorder that has muscle contraction as a mean symptom. It causes the affected body part to twitch and may look like the same movements or strange postures. This disorder affects speech and voice since it affects the lower face and ligaments. This dangerous condition can deteriorate the work of a single muscle, a whole group of muscles, and even the whole body.

According to statistics, about 1% of the population faces dystonia. By the way, it is one of the most common troubles that connects with movement after essential tremors and Parkinson’s disease. Experts say that women are more prone to this trouble than men. Most often, patients face this disorder in old age, but there are no guarantees that this will not happen earlier because there were cases when this happened even with infants.

To recognize the appearance of such a disorder in time, it is necessary to pay attention to some of the existing signs of the onset of movement disorders. And if they are found, you should immediately sign up for a consultation with a doctor to prevent the condition’s deterioration. Let us consider in more detail what dystonia is, its symptoms, causes, and types.

What Are Dystonia Symptoms?

What are dystonia symptoms

The most common symptoms of dystonia:

  • Difficulties with the speech;
  • Uncontrollable blinking;
  • A “dragging leg”;
  • Foot cramps;
  • Involuntary stretching of the neck.

Symptoms of dystonia can range from relatively mild to severe. This disorder can affect any part of the body, and usually, the signs of the disease worsen as the next stages progress.

Also, factors like stress and fatigue can cause the symptoms of this disorder. People with dystonia often report pain and a state of exhaustion, which occurs due to frequent muscle contractions.

If the patient developed this disorder in childhood, the symptoms are initially in the foot or hand. However, they quickly pass to the entire part of the body. However, experts note that after adolescence, dystonia proceeds more slowly.

If dystonia has happened to a patient in adulthood, the patient notes the presence of symptoms in the upper body, after which there is a slowdown in the course of symptoms.

Dystonia Causes – Why Does It Happen?   

Dystonia causes why does it happen

Let’s find out what causes dystonia. This damage can occur for the following reasons:

  • Stroke;
  • Brain tumor;
  • Infection;
  • Drug reactions;
  • Wilson’s disease;
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain;
  • Exposure to heavy metals or carbon monoxide;
  • Traumatic brain injury or spine injury.

Experts say that often the occurrence of dystonia does not have a specific cause. This disorder is associated with a problem in the basal ganglia, the area of the brain that is responsible for initiating muscle contractions. The acquired disorder may be caused by damage to the basal ganglia. 

What Types Of Dystonia Disease Exist

According to the organ affected by dystonia, its types can be distinguished, for example:

  • Generalized dystonia;
  • Focal dystonia;
  • Multifocal dystonia; 
  • Segmental dystonia;
  • Hemi dystonia.

Distinguish types of dystonia disease based on their patterns

What types of dystonia disease exist

  • Blepharospasm

 This kind of dystonia is a kind of dystonia that affects the eyes. Blepharospasm usually starts with uncontrollable blinking in one eye; it moves to the other eye. Spasms provoked by blepharospasm cause the eyelids to close involuntarily. However, sometimes this type of dystonia may not allow a person to close his eyes at all. With blepharospasm, a person may have normal vision, but constant blinking makes a person blind.

  • Cervical Dystonia

This type of dystonia is also called torticollis. It is the most common type of dystonia. This condition usually begins in middle-aged people. This type of dystonia affects the neck muscles, which causes the head to twist and turn or pull in different directions.

  • Cranial dystonia

Cranial dystonia syndrome negatively affects the muscles of the head, the face, and the neck.

  • Oromandibular Dystonia

This dystonia provokes spasms of the jaw, lips, tongue muscles. It also causes problems with speech and swallowing.

  • Spasmodic Dystonia 

This condition affects the muscles in the throat, which can cause speech problems.

  • Late Dystonia

As a rule, tardive dystonia is a reaction to the drug. The symptoms of tardive dystonia are temporary and reversible with treatment.

This condition is very episodic. Symptoms of paroxysmal dystonia appear during attacks. In the intervals between episodes, a person does not feel discomfort.

  • Torsion Dystonia

This disorder is infrequent. It harms the entire body, which disables it. Symptoms of torsion dystonia usually appear at an early age and worsen with age. Experts note that torsion dystonia is most likely inherited and is caused by a mutation in the DYT1 gene.

  • The Writer’s Cramp

This state occurs exclusively during writing. This cramp harms the muscles of the arms or forearms.

Let’s consider in more detail the main types of dystonia disease.

Generalized Dystonia 

This type of dystonia usually begins at an early age. It affects a group of muscles in different parts of the body. Muscle damage often starts in the area of the trunk or limbs.

Symptoms of generalized dystonia include:

  • Turning and twisted legs;
  • Difficulties with body movement coordination;
  • Twisting of the body around the arms and legs;
  • Muscle spasms;
  • Change in gait.

Focal Dystonia 

Focal dystonia syndrome affects a specific area of ​​the body. The affected area includes the neck (cervical dystonia or spasmodic dystonia), eyes (blepharospasm), lower face (oromandibular dystonia), voice (laryngeal dystonia) or limbs (limb dystonia).

Some less common types of this dystonia can have adverse effects such as unusual stretching, flexion, or twisting of the body (e.g., truncal dystonia) or cause prolonged contractions and involuntary abdominal wall movement (abdominal wall dystonia).

Usually, this dystonia occurs at the age of 40 – 50 years. According to statistics, women suffer from focal dystonia three times more often. In general, focal dystonia is not inherited.

Multifocal Dystonia 

Multifocal dystonia affects several unrelated parts of the body. This dystonia is divided into primary (idiopathic, hereditary) and secondary (symptomatic) dystonia. 

Segmental Dystonia

This type of dystonia affects several parts of the body that are close to each other. About 30% of people with dystonia identify the presence of spasms in areas that are adjacent to the primary area. One of the most common segmental dystonia affects the eyelids and lower face.

Hemi Dystonia 

Hemi dystonia is characterized by the fact that it affects the arm and leg, which are on the same side of the body.

Treatment of Dystonia Disease

Treatment of dystonia disease

Unfortunately, no drug can cure dystonia. However, visiting a doctor, following his recommendations, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce the number of symptoms and normalize the patient’s condition as much as possible. If you notice the signs of the disorder that we described in our article, do not hesitate to contact our clinic for advice.

Our experienced and highly qualified Lone Star Neurology doctors help diagnose and treat many neurological diseases using modern equipment. To make an appointment with our specialists, call us at (214) 619-1910.

We treat various neurological disorders such as:

It is not a complete list we can help with; our neurologists daily deal with such complex diseases as dystonia, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke, trying to establish an accurate diagnosis, and prescribe treatment. Although many serious diseases are incurable, our doctors try to help each patient to stabilize the condition and live as long as possible.

Go to our website to read more about our clinic. Check out the blog with many helpful articles about different diseases, their diagnosis, and treatment. Our duty is to help every person with neurological diseases, which means finding the reason for it and improving the patient’s health.

Bottom Line

Dystonia is one of the most popular movement disorders. It includes twitching the body and face muscles, speech problems and vocal cords. Dystonia can be of different types. To treat dystonia, the patient requires the use of drugs prescribed by a doctor. Sign up for a consultation at our clinic; our specialists will establish a diagnosis and recommend certain medications to improve the patient’s well-being.


  • Can you have more than one type of dystonia?

Yes, unfortunately, some patients may have several forms of dystonia. This means that most of the body is affected, which can lead to deafness over time.

  • Can dystonia occur suddenly?

Paroxysmal dystonia is rare in which sudden muscle contractions and unusual body movements occur at specific times. The attack can appear quite suddenly.

  • Does dystonia go away?

In fact, dystonia is not curable. However, timely access to a doctor will help to alleviate the patient’s condition, reduce the number of symptoms and improve life as much as possible in their situation.

  • How is dystonia diagnosed?

To diagnose dystonia, the doctor conducts a physical examination, interviews the patient,  and collects information about the symptoms and what diseases the patient’s relatives had. The doctor prescribes genetic tests if there is a suspicion that dystonia has been inherited from relatives.

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Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
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It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
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16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
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16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
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21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
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17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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  1. 02/02/2024

    Excellent reading. Learned about what I have in the neck (r) side.
    Thank you

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